Gypsy Rose was born of necessity. I (Kevin) live on a boat (Raven) on Lake Champlain from April through November. Marion recently bought land in Tunbridge, Vermont. While I was exploring options for a winter residence in Burlington (Raven is "on the hard" from mid-November through the beginning of April), Marion knew she needed a temporary summer home in Tunbridge until she decides how to eventually build a permanent home on her land.
Last winter, I was mulling over the options while on a long drive through Vermont. It came to me. I called Marion and suggested, "Why don't we build a home on wheels! We can share it. I can use it during the winter months in Burlington and you can use it during the summer months in Tunbridge."
An idea was born! Marion loved it and we immediately started working through concepts and ultimately drew up plans for the new home. "Gypsy Rose," we'll call her.
Lots of research and lots of bouncing ideas eventually led to a concept for a traditionally "stick built" home on wheels. Life aboard Raven has given me a good understanding of independent, low impact living. Like the boat, Gypsy Rose will be self contained and off the grid - using many systems that were developed for marine applications. She will operate primarily on 12V electrical systems whose batteries will ultimately be charged by solar or small-scale hydro (with a generator backup). Propane will power the stove, the refrigerator, the furnace, and the on-demand hot water heater. A composting toilet will handle the waste.
From the Drawing Board to the Driveway
At first I had thought I'd build Gypsy Rose on a stock construction trailer base, but ultimately I went to Bob Schumacher at Outdoor Recreational Supply (Shelburne, Vermont) and asked if he could build me a custom trailer frame that we could use as a base. Bob's engineering mind immediately went to work on the design and the frame was welded up and ready by the end of October.
Lights, camera . . . ready to roll down the highway to Marion's home in Connecticut where the building will begin.
Blocked up and level in the driveway, and we were ready to begin construction on Saturday, November 4th.
From the base plate up, the structure is traditional wood-frame construction, but integrating the floor joist system with the steel frame of the trailer was all new territory. We tried to work out as many of the details as we could during the design phase, but once construction began we knew that there would be the unforeseen that would have to be accommodated as the project progressed.
Many half-inch holes were drilled through the frame to attach "nailers", which were bolted to the steel frame members. From the nailers, the floor joists were hung.
By the end of the second day of building, the floor joists were nearly complete.